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Spotlight Report

Law, adjusting to new life, says he prays daily for diocese

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 12/12/2003

Cardinal Bernard F. Law, breaking a yearlong public silence, said in an interview with a Catholic newspaper that he believes the Archdiocese of Boston is moving in the right direction and that he prays for the diocese every day.

Law, who resigned a year ago tomorrow as Boston's archbishop, said it has taken time to adjust to a less frenetic life after three decades overseeing dioceses in Massachusetts and Missouri. He said he has been devoting more time to Vatican committees and recently spent six weeks in Rome, but that he does not know whether the Vatican will give him a new formal assignment.

Law praised his successor, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley, and said, "I pray daily for him as I pray for the archdiocese."

"I believe that it is very important when you leave to really leave, but I am convinced that generally the church has taken a massive step forward in addressing what has been a terrible problem," he said.

Law made his comments in an interview with The Pilot, the archdiocesan newspaper. The interview is to be published in today's edition; it was conducted on Dec. 5, the day of Law's 30th anniversary as a Catholic bishop.

"Obviously, it is a very difficult transition to go from the kind of a life and the kind of a schedule that I had . . . to something that is not pressured. . . . It does take a while to adjust," Law said. "Thank God, I've managed to do that, I think, rather well."

Law, 72, resigned after 18 years as Boston's archbishop. Once among the most influential of Catholic prelates, his lengthy career was undone by a public uproar over his failure to remove sexually abusive priests. After his resignation, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly issued a report declaring that 250 priests and other archdiocesan employees had allegedly abused at least 789 minors since 1940, and the archdiocese agreed to pay $85 million to settle legal claims brought by 540 people who claimed to have been harmed by such abuse.

Law said he decided to resign after prayer and consultations with "some very close advisors."

"I felt that we had attempted to address the terrible issue of abuse in an effective way," he said. "I thought that what we had in place were things that needed to be in place, but I understood that really the confidence that people had in me as a leader had been eroded on this issue, and it's very important that there be that kind of confidence generally. And so I made that decision." Asked if he wanted to say anything to Boston's Catholics, Law said that he had found it difficult to leave so abruptly, but that he had thought doing so was best for the church here.


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